Guest posting by Professor Simon Gilson, Department of Italian, University of Warwick:
“The John Rylands Library recently hosted a study day as part of a two-week Summer Workshop that forms part of a collaborative programme between the Newberry Library and Warwick University’s Centre for the Study of the Renaissance. The workshop on Reading Publics in Fifteenth and Sixteenth-Century Europe brought to the Rylands a team of Warwick organizers and a further 19 selected British and American participants, most from Newberry Consortium institutions. The workshop was organised around three main thematic clusters: (1) vernacular literature; (2) Platonism; (3) Philosophy and Medicine.
“The John Rylands Library’s resources and staff enthusiasm and expertise allowed the participants to be part of an exceptionally rich and fascinating experience. After a tour of the library, the participants were able to benefit from presentations by Julianne Simpson (on the remarkable Aldine collections held at the JRL), by Caroline Checkley-Scott and Gwen Jones (on the digitization projects undertaken by the Library), and by Prof. Steve Milner (Italian: on the origins and cultural significance of the Italian collections). After lunch Drs Guyda Armstrong (Manchester), Maude Vanhaelen (Warwick) and David Lines (Warwick) led a series of workshops introducing the students to the Rylands’ holdings across all three strands of the Summer Workshop. Participants were able to learn about and see at first-hand the wealth of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century books held, from popular manuals on surgery to erudite editions of Neoplatonic authors, from richly annotated editions of Aristotle to lavishly illustrated early Italian books of vernacular verse.
“The openness and generosity of staff at the Rylands made the day a highlight of the workshop. All the participants came away inspired by the experience and commented repeatedly on the exceptional quality both of the books available and the Rylands staff input during the day. The organizers (Simon Gilson, David Lines, Maude Vanhaelen) wish to extend a very warm thanks to all involved for their commitment to the academic enrichment provided during the day.”